Pastors under siege: what to do when integrity and truth become a liability
By Mario Murillo
A pastor pours blood sweat and tears into a work for God only to see it battered, broken and diminished. The community he serves now tells him that schools are off limits to churches. City government wants to know how you stand on gay marriage and hints that you will be penalized for your stand. Suddenly use permits are hard to get and neighborhoods want you to stay away.
Then he turns around and sees large crowds and big money pour effortlessly into churches that are either hiding the Gospel or perverting it.
There is nothing more heartbreaking to a true pastor than to watch his sheep drawn away into false teaching. What makes it even worse is the dismaying feeling of rejection when good people, whom you have poured your life into for years, are suddenly gone.
It is easy for him to say “Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning.” Psalm 73:13,14.
Let get something straight from the jump. This message is not for the many who would give up anything including their integrity to have a big church. This message is to those who believe that God can use them in a mighty way without compromising their convictions.
So here step by step is what you do if you are a pastor under siege:
1.Realize what is actually happening. We are experiencing a great falling away. Many believe that it is the great falling away that Paul the apostle warned Timothy about: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” -1Timothy 4:1.
Some have left Christianity all together because of persecution. But the real crisis is false Christianity.
Here is a chilling statistic: the three most popular preachers in America today do not mention the cross, the blood or hell. That has never been true in the entire history of America until now.
2.Those that deceive the church are getting supernatural help. We scratch our heads and wonder how false teaching can become so popular. We look at some of the subjects that are being taught and it is bewildering that such obvious error gets such a wide hearing.
Taught by devils: I never saw it before, the Bible says that demons would actually be doing the teaching! Paul said, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” – 1Timothy 4:1.
A mist of deception falls on an audience as they listen to false teachers. That mist desensitizes their natural discernment and removes their sense of caution. The giddy feeling that they are getting in the meeting lets them ignore the inner check they normally get from the Holy Spirit.
Even Mega churches can be supernaturally helped by the enemy. A mega church can be the perfect mirage for a hurting community. If people are given a groovy feeling instead of Christ they will have zero power against Satan and they will not know it. Furthermore, they are siding with the culture against true Christians which adds to the persecution.
Recently, we saw former mega church pastor Rob Bell bashing the true church and boasting to Oprah that the church is “moments away from accepting gay marriage.”
3.Since the forces that are attacking your congregation are supernatural your solution lies in the supernatural. Our friend in Psalm 73 came to a great conclusion. After being bull dozed by the success of the wicked that he was tempted to admire he took action “16 When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me—17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end.”
When he entered the sanctuary exhausted and discouraged, the greatness of God began to overtake him. He saw that there is no version of this battle where Satan wins.
I do not know where your sanctuary is. It may be a forest or a basement. It is where you and your God connect. Early in his ministry, David Wilkerson drove his car to a hill over the city and sought God. Go there and watch God increase and the enemy decrease.
4.Nobody but God and you know the final answer for your church. Wait a minute; don’t we need tutors and seminars to grow a church? Someone asked me once “what makes a church grow?” I said “nothing and everything.” It’s true! I have seen every tactic of church growth fail and I have seen the most unlikely methods succeed. It was all about what God tells you.
Oh sure others can add to your wisdom and confirm your convictions but God is a jealous God and he choose you to lead these people and He alone wants to tell you what to do next.
5.It is all about a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on your people to face the threat. We cannot change what we are teaching. The Blood, the Cross, prosperity, healing and faith are timeless truths for the body of Christ. Regardless of the short-term success of any “new, improved gospel” we cannot abandon truth and we cannot leave out any ingredient of truth that we know to be the Word of God.
So what do we change? The best answer to that question is another question: is there something that we have stepped away from that once made us powerful? When the Church last felt a threat this massive Peter prayed this prayer; “Lord behold their threats and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may preach your word while you stretch out your hand to heal and let science and wonders be done in the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:29
God answered this desperate prayer by pouring out his Spirit on the church. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:30.
In a time when pastors are being battered by advice on what to preach and how to change in order to be relevant, it is urgent that we return to prayer to seek a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He, the Spirit, is our supernatural outside help. He knows the enemy and how to defeat the enemy.
There is a life available that can be free of all distraction and ineffectiveness, a life that goes forth by the direct command of God. That life can accomplish truly mighty things, things mighty enough to change the course of America. This is the life you want to live! This is the only thing that we need to change.
A fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit is all that we need today. The American Church will not be turned around by supermen but by supernatural men. We do not need better equipment, new organizations, novel methods, but vessels that the Holy Ghost can use—vessels who pray with prevailing might. God does not flow through religious machinery but through human beings. He does not anoint plans, but people—people who can pray down fresh fire.
You will get outside help! The Holy Spirit has an original strategy for you that is perfect for the battle you are facing. He wants to show you how to put it to work. The bonus is the presence of God that all will feel in your meetings. Millions of believers have rejected lukewarm faith and they are yearning for a worship experience like the one God will build through you.
These are indeed dark times but America has seen this before. I would argue that the early 1960’s were as dangerous as today but God unexpectedly poured out His Spirit on California’s youth and pulled America back from the cliff. You and God can be a team to see miracles like that again!